Willoughby Recommendations: What to read and watch in 2024

Willoughby Recommendations: What to read and watch in 2024 - The Willoughby Book Club

2024 is shaping up to be a really interesting and invigorating year for the arts. It feels like more than ever, publishers and production companies, large and small, are releasing more and more fresh and exciting novels, including lots of intriguing translations and books written by underrepresented communities.

If, like us, you feel bombarded by new books, TV shows, and films, we’ve chosen some things that have recently piqued our interest here at Willoughby HQ, so that you don’t have to go through the trouble of the dreaded Netflix scroll, or the frantic pacing of your local bookshop or library.



 If you’ve immediately become obsessed with the new Ripley show on Netflix, based on Patricia Highsmith’s classic series of crime novels, we think you might enjoy Butter by Asako Yukuzi. Described as a culinary murder-mystery and based on a true story, this Japanese bestseller follows the story of Manako, a gourmet chef and convicted serial killer in Tokyo Detention Centre, who has killed numerous lonely businessmen by luring them with her cooking expertise. When a journalist strikes up a relationship with Manako in order to find out more about this violent con woman, she soon understands that the two have more in common than the journalist initially though. This would also be great for anyone who likes the novel or film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, for the interesting character dynamic.



Interested in the experimental writing of Maggie Nelson? Her book Bluets is being adapted for the stage and will be performed at the Royal Court in London from 17th May until 29th June. As a piece of writing, it is really difficult to pin down in terms of form and genre, so we expect this to be an intriguing piece of theatre. Nelson’s original text is a story of an obsession with the colour blue and all it represents in her life, covering art, philosophy, memoir, and psychology. Sara Pascoe and Cariad Lloyd have a brilliant episode of their Weirdos podcast dedicated to the book if you want to find out more.



The Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction shortlist has been announced and it has some really fascinating picks. If you have already read Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (you absolutely should if you haven’t picked up a copy yet), or anything by Susan Abulhawa, the paperback of Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad has just been published in the UK. It follows the story of Sonia, a Palestinian actor returning to her native Haifa who takes a role in a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Family, diaspora, connection, and displacement in current-day Palestine are just some of the ideas explored in this amazing new novel. Arguably, now more than ever, we should be reading the work of Palestinian creatives, so do pop this one on your list!


If, like me, you enjoy cult classic films like The Wicker Man or Midsommar, or even books like Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy, you should keep an eye out for Lost in the Garden by Adam S. Leslie, a folk horror published mid-May by Dead Ink, an exciting, boundaries-pushing UK publisher based in the North.

Hazy, creepy, atmospheric, this is the perfect novel to read on the warmer, stretched-out days that approach. Three friends traverse the British countryside in a seemingly endless summer, heading towards the mysterious Almanby. As they travel however, they soon realise why local folklore has always warded people away from the place.



In other horror news, if you like Jordan Peele movies- think Get Out, Nope, Us and horror related to current real-world issues, then Jackal by Erin E. Adams would be a perfect book to pick up next. It’s a propulsive psychological thriller, horror, and detective story combined. Liz returns to her predominantly white hometown for a friend’s wedding, but when the daughter of the bride goes missing, Liz discovers that young black children have been going missing for years. It’s haunting, gripping and a brilliant commentary on race in contemporary smalltown America.


If you liked the popular Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, try the new comedy series Big Mood on Channel 4. Nicola Coughlin (Derry Girls, Bridgerton) is phenomenal as Maggie who is trying very hard to live her best life while also trying to manage her bipolar disorder. Funny, dark, then funny again, it’s a bittersweet exploration of friendship, mental health, and trying to make it despite the odds.



We have recently binged the new series Mary and George, starring Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine. Unapologetically saucy, this fascinating look into the lives of a family who climbed the ranks of society during the reign of Charles 1st is really worth a watch. If you want well-written historical fiction with a propulsive plot, try The Maiden by Kate Foster. Set in Edinburgh in 1679, Lady Christian Nimmo is arrested and charged with the murder of her lover, James Forrester. However, a year previously she had been living a privileged and respectable life. So why did she risk it all?  It's a compelling historical crime thriller that will truly keep you turning the pages!



Have you read or watched anything that you would like to rave about? Let us know!



If you would like to read any of these books, you can purchase them, via our affiliate links in this blog post, on Bookshop.org that supports small independent bookshops.
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